Do I force my difficult child to grow up?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by brite_eyes01, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. brite_eyes01

    brite_eyes01 New Member

    My son is 11 years old, he has been under the care of developmental pediatricians and psychologists since he was 3. He has been diagnosed with cog. delay, speech delays, sensory disfunction,Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ODD,& Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). He has behavior issues and impulsivity issues. He is due to start Middle school next fall. His BD teacher harped on me over the fact that my son wears sweat pants more than jeans because he says my son doesn't fit in with his peers. He can not button jeans by himself. The sweat pants allow him more freedom and independance as well as to him are more comfortable because of his sensory issues. He also still loves Thomas the Tank Engine, he has multiple books which he still likes to look at. I was told I need to force him to grow up. I should throw out all of his Thomas books and toys which he has been collecting since he was little. He still plays with the toys. He also loves batman and superman, anything Disney, and construction stuff. I need some feedback, since he's starting middle school, should I force him to let go of his past?
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    I don't know if your difficult child is like mine, but transition is HUGE with him and I can't think of a more stressful experience than moving into Middle School. Forcing him to grow up so that he's more likely to be accepted socially would be a long shot already. Why add more? This seems like a Basket C issue in the spirit of "The Explosive Child". Why upset the apple cart?
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wouldnt force him to toss out his toys but I might suggest that he not take them to school with him.

    On the clothing issue, I might try to find some clothing that would be a compromise that will be socially acceptable so he wont stand out in middle school. Maybe elastic gym shorts like basketball shorts would be more stylish. I also think they make jeans with elastic waists. Maybe he could find some sort of pull up soft cotton pants in elastic waist that he likes. I doubt anyone is going to check to see if they have a button.

    You dont need to force him to grow up. Thomas the tank can be kept at home. The construction stuff can be a growing thing because that grows with age.
  4. wethreepeeps

    wethreepeeps New Member

    My difficult child is almost 9 and still loves Bob the Builder and the Wiggles and his stuffed animals. I haven't taken them away, but I have asked him to leave them at home because he got teased about his Bob backpack at the start of the school year. Emotionally my son is about 5 years old, and I have curtailed some behaviors in public so that he doesn't stand out, like wearing a dozen pairs of mardi gras beads at once, or putting towels or pillow cases on his head so he can pretend he has long hair. He still does them at home, they're normal developmental phases that he's just years behind on, but I don't want him ostracized in public either. He also can't do buttons, and has sensory stuff with "stiff" clothes like jeans, so I get him pull on pants from Land's End that he likes. They're kinda pricey, but they keep him happy, and he doesn't wear through the knees in a couple of months like he does other pants due to the hours and hours he spends crawling on the floor pushing his matchbox cars around.
  5. EB67

    EB67 New Member

    There is a store near me (I think it is a franchise) called Rugged Bear. They have a complete line of pants that have elastic waist bands, and the pants really look no different than what everyone else is wearing for the most part.

    I especially reccommend the pull on canvas cargo pants. The light weight cotton/nylon pants with belt are great for warmer weather and don't look dorky at all.

    Hope this gives you some ideas.

    Around here a lot of boys seem to prefer the nylon athletic track pants

    That might give your son the comfort of sweats with an updated look.

    As for the comforting toys and characters I see no reason to make him forsake them. You might not have him bring the character items to school in order to mitigate any potential teasing, but I would steer him towards other items rather than make a point of not being allowed to have the juvenile ones.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Can you FORCE him to be like his peers? I don't know. I have a son who is going on 14 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. He has adjusted, to a point, but he still watches cartoons and acts much younger. He watches "Dora the Explorer" along with his cartoons. I was told that Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids get easily distracted and overwhelmed by a lot of movement so they enjoy simple shows on television. Typically kid's shows aren't filled with lots of loud noise, flashing lights or clutter. I don't even mention his television choices to him, although I'm sure he would never watch that in front of a peer. He dresses in an acceptable fashion, but we need to force him to bathe--he never thinks he smells bad.
    I can't speak for your son, but in the case of my son, I would find it cruel to try to make him change because he is what he is, and he may never be 100% independent, in spite of a normal IQ. I've faced this long ago. He is doing much better now, but I still think he will always need some guidance. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are tricky. Their brains are wired differently, so I have been told many times. MY son is a happy kid now. When we tried to treat him like a "typical" kid it not only didn't work, but he was miserable. I wish you luck in whatever you decide to try. Hugs to you.
  7. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I don't think you can force him to grow up. He is who he is. My difficult child is upset if they just change a classroom for a day. Totally sets him off. The move to middle school is big. I have had so many talks with my difficult child. About liking who he is, not worrying about what others think. Still, he wants to be accepted so much. The middle school setting is going to be a big change. He will probably mature a lot with the transition. The first year of middle school was a disaster for us. I didn't realize how hard that was on him. Trying to fit in with 1000 other kids. This year was better, and hoping for an even better 8th grade next year. Good luck. Great ideas above.
  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You can't force your child to grow up - you can gently provide the tools that will bring along some maturity, but removing his favorite toys could cause more regression.

    I don't agree with his BD doctor at all. Many of the difficult children here are less mature than their chronological age. My son is your son's age and he too will be going into middle school. He is mature in some ways, and way immature in others. But I would never pull his favorite things from him as he is entering middle school as a way to force him to "grow up". That would probably increase his anxiety 10-fold. It's going to be a tough adjustment as it is.

    I agree with the posters about the elastic band slacks. What about snaps? Target has boys jeans with snaps instead of buttons that may work?

  9. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I'm with Sharon & others who said you cannot force your difficult child. However, you can provide role models, more age appropriate toys, movies, activities along with clothes.

    We have been nudging kt & wm forward - nearer to their physical age versus their emotional age. Taking baby steps & seeing small improvements with their choices. They truly want friends; to get along with their peers. Tweedles dee & dum know that there are toys that are best played with in their rooms.
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult child just the other day refused to give up a stuffed SpongeBob doll that only has one arm. Sometimes it is just a comfort to them. Someday she will agree to throw it out. When she is ready she will do it. I would never throw it out on her as the meltdown that would ensue would not be worth it. I have had to talk her into a few things - that were no longer sanitary or safe and needed to go. It was very emotional for her.

    That BD teacher is off the mark. I am sure she is worried about difficult child and middle school, but taking it all away is not the answer. I agree maybe getting him to agree to leave it all at home.
  11. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Age is simply a rough guideline. My son is 12 and quite popular, although his reading and writing skills were several grade levels below his classmates. Then he missed most of grade 5 due to multiple extensive eye surgeries due to an eye injury. I felt he did not have the opportunity to mature enough in grade 5 to move on to our grade 6 middle school. His maturity level had little to do with his choice of toys, tho.
    He has several middle school aged friends who love to come play hot wheels and Thomas (we have the wooden thomas stuff, not the newer stuff) and my daughters and their friends also love to play with these things.
    Seems to me that pushing any person to give up their treasured possessions is asking for trouble. Part of "maturity" is acceptance that we all have different things we like and dislike, so if his peers are all "so" mature, they should be learning that. Don't get me wrong, my son also loves to go to pop rock concerts and whirleyball and bumper cars and bowling. He loves skateboarding and riding his bike. He loves his videogames and beats most adults.

    As for clothes, well, that is still similar logic, in my opinion. How often do adults tell kids to "think for themself" "accept diversity" "just becuz so and so is d oing something does not mean you have to"
    My son has mild cp and low muscle tone. It is so mild it is not obvious. But it does create difficulty for him with zippers, buttons, tying etc. He wears sandals or velcro shoes or slip on shoes. He wears elastic waist pants- and he wears his t shirt out over his pants. When we got him a plain backpack for school, it was explained for 2 reasons to him- cheaper than a licensed character one and also less liekly to get stolen. Both are true and not as judgemental to him as "less mature" Truth is if you go to our HS here in town you will find far more licensed character items at our HS than you might find at our elementary school.

    I pride my son on being who he is and making his choices and not being led by his peers so much.
  12. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I am trying to imagine how I would feel if someone decided to get rid of ANYTHING of mine. Or someone trying to take it away. Yes, I would have a major meltdown, but I also would no longer trust the person who did it.
  13. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I agree with others; about the best we can do is to nudge them toward age-appropriate activities.

    For many of our kids, chronological age is just that -- actual age. They may be able to perform at or above grade level academically, but their emotional age is delayed.

    Your son would be better served if she cordinated her concerns with the school district's Occupational Therapist who should be treating the sensory issues and fine motor skill delays causing this problem.
  14. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Just my opinion, but the teacher needs a reality check. Between the fine motor and sensory issues, why on earth would he want your son in jeans?? Would it somehow be less stigmatizing if your son had to have a teacher help him fasten his pants? Holy cow... sorry, but this just really strikes me as some really wrong-headed thinking here. Yes, we want our kids to blend in and have friends, but... jeans vs. sweat pants is not the answer, in my humble opinion. I think I'd suggest some intensive IEP goals and Occupational Therapist (OT) to assist with this fine motor skill and the sensory issues. In the meantime, you could search for "cooler" pants with- elastic bands... I can't remember what they're called, but kind of surfer pants, wild prints and patterns... if your son is interested.

    As far as his collections, I wouldn't touch them. It sounds as though they are treasures to him. Taking them away (just based on life with- my own kids) would probably seem cruel and arbitrary. Where's the harm?

    It's a fine line - balancing so-called "age appropriate" dress and interests, and what is developmentally and emotionally appropriate. At 11, it's really such a wide range of what is appropriate because some kids are charging into puberty and others are just chilling in childhood. "Forcing" a kid to give up childhood pleasures isn't going to bring about more mature behavior - I'd really expect a regression in fact. And 11 really *is* young still, middle-school or not. You know your kid best. You know what he can tolerate, when he can be pushed with higher expectations and what is simply beyond his reach right now.

    Again, whoever told you that you need to force him to grow up needs a serious reality check (at the very least). It simply cannot be done, in my humble opinion. Our kids have their own timelines for social and emotional development. We can nuture and encourage, try to keep them pointed in the right direction, but it will happen when *they're* ready, not when the adults around them are ready.

    Just my opinion. :wink:
  15. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    WOW!! This board sure is opinionated on that subject.....and let me throw my two cents in, also. My son will be twelve in October. Among many other issues, he has severe separation anxiety. The last few months I thought we'd finally overcome him sleeping on our bedroom floor. He has regressed. ARG...! I told husband there HAS to be something causing him anxiety or I don't think he'd be doing it. We, as parents, generally know what's best for our difficult children. Your son is "attached" to his things and I don't see one thing wrong with it. My son often takes his "valuables" along in the car somewhere, but he leaves them in the car when we get out. It's like a toddler carrying around a favorite blanket (he did that, too).

    Try some "wind pants". I think that would help alot on his jeans issue.

    The 2/3 rule certainly applies to my difficult child. Now that I have decided to TREAT him at 2/3s of his age, my expectations are much less. Middle school in the fall will be a challenge, however; he's going into a Social Development Classroom where he won't be mainstreamed until the teacher thinks he's ready (if ever). My difficult child has a normal IQ and makes very good grades, but emotionally he's really far behind.

    I don't think it's possible for you to make your son grow up. He is who he is and will do it on his own....someday.
  16. mattsmom27

    mattsmom27 Active Member

    My difficult child has no delays etc but he "marches to the beat of his own drummer". I have always believed he had/has sensory issues to some degree though. He also has essential tremors in his hands. Buttons are better now and zippers in jeans, but jackets are hard for him. He has a hard time tying shoes so he tucks them inside his shoe, untied. Often I have to remind him to tuck them in when they are dragging under him. His hands just tremble so badly he can't do these things. He also has fine and gross motor skill delays. Because he functions so highly and is very intelligent, the school often believes he is faking to get out of things (like tying his shoes, doing up his coat etc). We had a huge issue this year over a stupid sewing assignment. He was to use a sewing machine. I was to provide material. As if a child who trembles like he's going through DT's can hold material tightly and put his fingers near a needle zipping up and down!!! I tried to solve this problem by asking for a alternate assignment for difficult child, the school didn't budge. So I simply refused to provide the fabric he required. He ended up sitting doing nothing in these classes, took some flack for it, I took flack for it. But what was difficult child to do??
    Schools often have unrealistic expectations of our difficult child's. Sounds like you know your difficult child and although I can understand the school wanting your difficult child to be accepted by peers, "jeans" isn't going to be the magic answer. I do think that others here have great ideas though such as leaving certain toys at home, buying pull on pants that look more "up to date" (cargo pants etc). I do this with difficult child. He can do buttons and zippers on his jeans now but I still buy him the cargos and the Nike sports pants etc. I try to buy him cool basketball shoes for wearing to school that I pay a bit more for, but there are some cool ones out there that have no laces, no velcro, just slip them on. I believe difficult child's current one's are Nike but they also sell nice ones in Walmart etc for much cheaper. As for the pants with elastic waists, longer shirts that cover the elastic will help the pants look the same as other kids pants.
    I think the school needs to be realistic, you have a special needs child with his own individual issues and they need to recognize that "changing your difficult child to conform to standards of peers" is unrealistic. Sure there are things you can do to help and there's great ideas here. But I would personally challenge the school to help educate your difficult child's peers about special needs and what it means for your difficult child, that your difficult child is worthy of equal acceptance for being himself, period.